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Gas deposits in disputed area bigger than Malampaya—Aquino

/ 06:39 PM November 12, 2011

HONOLULU, Hawaii—President Benigno Aquino said here Friday that  gas deposits in an area of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) that is being claimed by the Philippines, China and several other countries  were so enormous that they dwarf the Malampaya gas and oil fields.

And by next year, Aquino said, a US company would start operations in the gas-rich territory.

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Aquino made the statements by way of answering a question during a session on commodity security of the APEC CEO Summit as what his government was doing to address the high cost of electricity in the Philippines.

“There is a new field that is going to be brought up or is going to start, I understand, by next year by an American company in the northern portion of the Philippines,” President Aquino said.

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“There are substantial gas deposits that we believe are already in the proven scale at this point in time that will dwarf the Malampaya oil fields. Some of them are in areas that are part of the contentious disputes as to sovereignty over the same,” he added.

Aquino said his government was working on “steps to determine as to who actually owns them consistent with the United Nations Conventions on the laws of the Sea.”

Asked how he expected the dispute to be resolved, the President replied, “We are hoping that all the signatories to the United Nations convention will adhere to the stipulations of the convention.”

“Among them is the 200-mile exclusive economic zone, which clearly shows that the areas in dispute are in our favor, that the portions in the area of dispute  which we are claiming we have a solid claim to,” he said.

Aquino  said there were  various mechanisms that the Philippines could count on for arbitration to settle that matter “once and for all and to have these resources benefit not only our country but our neighbors in the region, and will transform our energy needs from dependence on the Middle East… to more indigenous sources.”

Aquino and Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras were not immediately available to reporters for additional  details on the US involvement in the gas-rich disputed territory.

“We have a very vibrant renewable energy sector. At the end of the day the first phases, the abundance of electrical supply, then we have wholesale electronic spot market that is supposed to induce competition that will bring down the rates,” he said with respect to the Philippines’ high power rates.

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TAGS: APEC, Foreign affairs, natural gas, Natural resources, oil, South China Sea, Spratlys, territorial disputes, West Philippine Sea
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